young adult book reviews & more

Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O’Roark Dowell

Ten Miles Past NormalWhen Janie was little, she really wanted to live on a farm. And when her parents thought that was a good idea, she believed she was the luckiest girl in the world. Now older and in high school, Janie just wishes her life were normal. She wishes she didn’t have to be so careful where she steps when she milks the goats every morning and that her mom wasn’t such a local celebrity due to the blogosphere. Unfortunately, it looks like she doesn’t have much of a choice on those fronts, but that won’t stop her from doing all she can to blend in at school. Eventually, Janie will just have to realize that she just wasn’t meant to completely fit in, and that normal actually might be totally overrated.

Ten Miles Past Normal is a sweet and pertinent YA debut for author O’Roark Dowell. As can be easily gleaned from the title, this novel is all about “normality” and fitting in, which are huge issues for many teens. O’Roark Dowell approaches this topic from the perspective of Janie, who is in so many ways an outsider. Although most readers are unlikely to share Janie’s exact circumstances that so clearly mark her that way, it is quite easy to understand and relate to her desire to be “normal.” Janie’s journey to acceptance of herself and her situation is an endearing one even if the general progress of the story is a rather predictable one. However, although I quite enjoyed reading this story, nothing in particular really stood out to me. All the characters are quirky and fun to read about, but they are not very vividly described either. There were sections of the book that I found simultaneously refreshing and frustrating because certain outcomes felt strangely both cliché and original. Overall, though, Ten Miles Past Normal is a solid YA debut with interesting characters, great humor, and relevant subject matter.

Ten Miles Past Normal is sure to be enjoyed by readers who also liked Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph and Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern.

Rating: 3.5

Review copy from pretty fab PR

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